29 August 2006

Things I have been tracking down, but not much fun - WIP

Looking over at Alabama Liberation Front on the State Dept. Official and the Tanzanite trade. I am finding much smoke and, well, much smoke. Original article of note from al-Reuters via Washington Post:

U.S. diplomat charged with taking bribes for visas
Friday, August 25, 2006; 5:27 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. diplomat was charged on Friday with accepting trips with exotic dancers, jewelry and entertainment in exchange for issuing visas to 21 people linked to an international jewel distributor.

U.S. Foreign Service officer Michael O'Keefe, 59, and international jeweler Sunil Agrawal were indicted by a grand jury in Washington on three counts of conspiracy and bribery

The indictment said between 2004 and 2006 Agrawal gave round-trip airline tickets to O'Keefe and two exotic dancers to travel to New York and Las Vegas. Agrawal paid for hotels, expensive meals and entertainment during the trips.

Agrawal also gave O'Keefe jewelry, other gifts and a job reference, the indictment said. In exchange, O'Keefe helped expedite visa requests for employees of Agrawal's company, STS Jewels Inc. He issued visas to 21 people sponsored by Agrawal.
This leads to this issue of the Gem Forecaster vol.20, No.1:

The tanzanite market is suffering due to "bad press" and an oversupply of material. Prices were already weak before the Wall Street Journal and ABC News stories. Tanzanites at this year's show were being offered at a 30-50% discount from last year. It is too early to tell if this price drop is permanent or temporary. The US Department of State, following a summit at the show, declared there is no present link between tanzanite and terrorism. In response to past allegations that the tanzanite trade benefits terrorist organizations, the Tucson Tanzanite Protocol was formed in Tucson on February 9. The steps outlined in this proposal include implementing a system of downstream warranties for traders who buy, sell, cut, polish, set or otherwise trade tanzanite. An analysis of the tanzanite market will be conducted to determine what improvements can be made to prevent abuse, and a mandate will be issued requiring traders only to accept tanzanite that is accompanied by a written warranty. The purpose is to implement actions aimed at protecting the legitimacy of tanzanite.

In more bad news for this gemstone, a wrongful death lawsuit has been filed by wives of Cantor Fitzgerald employees, a New York police officer and the father of a New York firefighter against dealers of tanzanite. The suit alleges ties between the trade of the gemstone and Osama Bin Laden. Filed in federal court in Manhattan on February 14, it seeks an injunction banning New York dealer STS Jewelers, Inc. from selling tanzanite and forcing the company to donate past tanzanite proceeds to a September 11 relief fund. The suit also seeks $1 billion in compensatory damages from several other defendants, including the Tanzanite Mineral Dealers Association (TAMIDA).
As seen at the original Alabama link. Now a bit of digging leads to this Gem Forecaster vol. 23, No. 4 article:

The Tanzanite Foundation
An Interview with Sarah Cort
by Robert Genis

Although we do not recommend Tanzanite as a collector gemstone due to the fact it is heated, we admire the marketing prowess TanzaniteOne, the biggest player in the tanzanite market. Their marketing arm is the Tanzanite Foundation. The marketing strategy is politically correct branding and jewelers should consider this product. We spoke to Sarah Cort of Global Operations, regarding their plans.

Gemstone Forecaster: What do you mean by Ethical Mining?

Sarah Cort: The Tanzanite Foundation is founded on The Tucson Tanzanite Protocols, which outline best practice principles for trading and mining of tanzanite. These protocols detail and promote that tanzanite must follow a legitimate and transparent route to market with a traceable chain of warranties. The Tucson Tanzanite Protocols were drawn up in 2002 as in response to an alleged link between tanzanite and terrorism. Following this allegation, the US State department conducted a full investigation into the tanzanite industry, repudiated these allegations and gave tanzanite and its industry a “clean bill of health”.

The Tanzanite Foundation promotes ethical mining which means that we endorse that correct safety precautions are taken when mining, that best employment practices are adhered to and that due consideration is given to the environment when mining. Therefore, exports follow a legitimate route and that the correct taxes and duties are paid on all exports to the Tanzanian government. We aim to protect tanzanite’s integrity and preserve its reputation.
So, act getting cleaned up, somewhat. Thus time to follow this lead to the Jewlers Circular Keystone magazine 19 FEB 2002:

The Wall Street Journal reported Friday, Feb. 15 that three lawyers have filed a suit on behalf of Sept. 11 victims that names dealers of tanzanite and targets alleged ties between the tanzanite trade and Osama bin Laden.

The wrongful death action reportedly filed in federal court in New York City seeks an injunction banning STS Jewels Inc., a large New York City tanzanite dealer, from selling the gem and forcing the company to contribute all past tanzanite-sale proceeds to a court-supervised Sept. 11 victims relief fund.

The suit also reportedly seeks $1 billion in damages from the other defendants, including the Tanzanite Mineral Dealers Association (TAMIDA). The lawsuit alleges that the defendants knew their tanzanite sales helped support bin Laden's al Qaeda terrorist network. Because bin Laden masterminded the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, the suit also contends the tanzanite dealers are also liable for the attacks.

This is despite the fact that U.S. State Department officer of East African Affairs, Mike O'Keefe stated that while there is no doubt that there was an Al Qaeda operative selling tanzanite to finance the embassy bombing in 1998, there is absolutely no new connection between the tanzanite trade and smuggling in support of the Al Qaeda terrorist network.
"We have seen no evidence that Al Qaeda or any other terrorist group is currently using tanzanite sales to finance its efforts to launder money, " O'Keefe said to an audience at the AGTA Gem Fair, Feb. 8. When asked by reporters about the Wall Street Journal's article (that allegedly linked tanzanite to the terrorist network and which the newspaper cited as the inspiration for the law suit), O'Keefe suggested that while all of WSJ research seemed correct, the State Department and U.S. intelligence came to a much different conclusion. "And we have considerably more investigative power than the Wall Street Journal."

In addition, representatives of the Tanzanite community vehemently denied any connection between their industry and al Qaeda, the newspaper reported.

Despite these statements, lawyers for the plaintiffs told the newspaper that their investigation shows otherwise.

The suit also names as defendants, bin Laden, the former Taliban government of Afghanistan, the Iraqi government, and accused Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui.

The suit was brought on behalf of the wives of a Cantor Fitzgerald LP broker and a New York police officer, and the father of a New York firefighter, the newspaper reported. The plaintiffs are currently anonymous but will probably have to disclose their identities if the case continues.

The lawyers for the plaintiffs are Paul Hanly of New York, a corporate defense lawyer who has defended asbestos clients, Mark Lanier of Texas, well-known for winning large judgments against the asbestos industry, and Ed Hayes, described in the newspaper article as a celebrity criminal and media lawyer who represents Robert DeNiro, had a cameo role in the movie "GoodFellas," and was the inspiration for a defense lawyer in the Tom Wolfe novel, "Bonfire of Vanities."
So, much on that pre-trial.

A bit of further searching on my part led to this Google Cache from Africa Gems:
Update Feb 6th, 2002

Recent Wall Street Journal article links Tanzanite Trade to Osama Bin Laden terrorist network
On November 16 the Wall Street Journal published a report accusing dealers at the source of supporting the terrorist network.

According to the article, ". . . Muslim extremists loyal to Mr. bin Laden buy stones from miners and middlemen, smuggling them out of Tanzania to free-trade havens such as Dubai and Hong Kong." The authors point to a local mosque as the center of both anti-American sentiment and gem trading: "After prayers, the mosque's courtyard becomes an open-air gem-dealing space, where [imam] Sheik Omari and other mosque leaders trade Tanzanite with small-time miners. In between haggling, the elders preach the virtues of suicide attacks as a way to defend their faith."

The Tanzanian Mineral Dealers Association (TAMIDA) issued a press release refuting the Wall Street Journal charges. "Upon investigation of the radical mosque described in the story, TAMIDA has found it staffed by a young cleric, 27 years of age, called Mudir Omar Suleiman of the Ansari sect of Sunni Muslims. He denies having talked to any American or South African reporter, period," read the release. " . . . 'Sheik' Omari, as described in the article, is in fact not a Sheik, and Aman Mustapha, also so described, appears to be an alias because three days of intense investigation has failed to uncover anyone by this name. Mudir Omar also does not know of this individual and is definitely not a teacher at the mosque. Further, the mosque described in the story is not under construction, but rather a completed shack of corrugated sheets and discarded timber. Mudir Omar asks people to look at this humble mosque, which barely holds 30 people, and states that if he were dealing in Tanzanite, the mosque would not be in this condition."

As for whether or not there are bin Laden supporters among the Tanzanite miners of Merelani: "In any crowd, anywhere in the world, it is not unusual to find either pro-bin Laden or anti-American sentiments, or vice versa. This does not mean that people in Merelani's Tanzanite trade are for bin Laden, or are forced to sell to Muslim extremists," as the Wall Street Journal article claimed.
A bit of local reporting does go a long way!

Now time to take at the American Gem Trade Association and we get this document on the status of the Tucson Protocols for the Tanzanite trade, from which I excerpt:
(p5 or 7 of 20)

The State Department requested intelligence reports from all services in preparation for the Summit. The State Department spokesman assured the participants that all intelligence sources agreed that there was no evidence of that al-Qaida was currently involved in the tanzanite trade. A private New York jeweler took the initiative to obtain the trial records of an al-Qaida operative named Wadih el- Hage, who was convicted in the bombing of the U.S. Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998. He is the only link ever mentioned as being associated with tanzanite. The trial records, including the defendant’s private diaries, allowed dealers to satisfy themselves that el-Hage had not ever succeeded in penetrating the trade, although it was clear that he had tried to do so from Nairobi in 1995. El- Hage’s lawyer confirmed that his client had attempted to enter the tanzanite trade as a small broker between 1995 and 1997, but had never succeeded in becoming a factor in the market.1 Trial records and the diaries show that el-Hage first attempted to earn a living by starting a refugee relief organization. When that failed he tried marketing anything that could be exported from East Africa, including hides, sesame seed, meat, etc.

(10 or 12 of 20)

Both Kenya and Tanzania suffered from al- Qaida terrorism when the U.S. Embassies in those countries were bombed in 1998. Most of the more than 250 deaths were Kenyans and Tanzanians. The two governments tracked down the perpetrators, with U.S. assistance, and both have continued to keep a close watch on suspected al-Qaida sympathizers.
So the State Dept. is saying not much going on. Digging a bit further on the trade portion of this leads to Professional Jewlers Magazine archive and this 02 MAY 2002 entry, which I excerpt this:
An online article in a jewelry trade publication quoted the Federation of Small Scale Miners Association of Tanzania saying “recent investigations have indeed uncovered businesses and businesspeople with alleged ties to terrorist groups.” This differed from denials issued previously by other Tanzanian dealer groups, including TAMIDA, which represents 90% of the country’s tanzanite dealers. The online article quoted Lorraine Braden, who identified herself as the small-scale miners’ emissary in the U.S., saying “many of those so involved [with terrorist groups] have been detained and questioned by the relevant Tanzanian law enforcement authorities and others, including the FBI.” The good news, she said, was “they are by no means in the majority.”

On Nov. 28, 2001, a follow-up article in The Wall Street Journal quoted Braden and the online story. In Tanzania, however, Braden drew fire for her comments. “She is basically a self-appointed individual who does not speak with any authority for miners, dealers or the Tanzanian government,” says TAMIDA Chairman Sammy Mollel. “Her comments should be completely disregarded.”

But the damage had already been done. “The perception in the trade that spokespersons for Tanzania admitted links to al Qaeda was probably the first news to cause damage within the industry,” says Suleman. Television retailer QVC responded by suspending tanzanite sales.

In mid-December, an ABC News segment aired on the reported tanzanite/terrorist link. It showed pages from an al Qaeda operative’s notepad that included numbers – possibly leading viewers to think the scribbled figures represented large tanzanite sales. ABC News suggested U.S. retailers were selling a tainted product. By then, Tiffany & Co, which in the late 1960s named the African gem, had pulled the product from its showcases. Later, Zale Corp. dropped tanzanite too. Avram says his sales of tanzanite plummeted 35% as other jewelers shunned the gem.


Among the evidence Avram compiled were several notepads written by el Hage (Editor’s Note: Court documents refer to them as notepads while WSJ calls them a diary). The notepads mention tanzanite and other gems. Gems were mentioned during the trial, mostly in relation to a business partner in the mid-1990s, a Kenyan named Mohamed Ali Oudeh. Ali Oudeh, who still brokers gems and other consumer products, is not connected to al Qaeda.

An FBI exhibit said el Hage had trouble making ends meet while living in Kenya and tried to enter the tanzanite business. Court transcripts and interviews with Ali Oudeh, who was called as a witness for the defense, back up el Hage’s lack of capital. In fact, his attempts to sell tanzanite in Europe and the U.S. were so dismal he had to borrow 70 British pounds just to complete his trip. “The transcripts and exhibits never show any evidence of tanzanite being sold, especially not to finance al Qaeda,” says Avram.

A lawyer for el Hage confirmed the gem dealer’s assessment. “There was not any evidence offered that any money Mr. el Hage may have received as payment for tanzanite was ever used or transferred for the purpose of use for terrorist or illegal activity,” says Joshua L. Dratel, el Hage’s attorney, in a letter to Avram. In fact, discussion of gems was a relatively small part of trial documents, says Avram. Prosecutors were trying to establish how el Hage aided the terrorist cell that bombed the U.S. Embassies in East Africa, but U.S. investigators and trial lawyers said tanzanite was not determined to have been a financial vehicle for the cell.

As the pieces began to fall into place, Avram recalled the ABC News broadcast: “Hadn’t they shown actual figures of tanzanite sold?” He reviewed a tape of the broadcast, locating the section that showed the figures from el Hage’s notepad and finding that page from the court documents. “The page listed numbers all right, but they were not dollar figures, as viewers were led to believe,” says Avram. “They were telephone and fax numbers. The words ‘fax’ and ‘office’ [which el Hage had scribbled alongside the numbers] were covered over by other documents during filming.”

“It was a final part of the mystery solved,” says Avram. “I understood there never was proof of a connection, and my instincts that tanzanite has too low a relative value to be of interest to al Qaeda proved true.” In February, the U.S. State Department agreed, clearing tanzanite of any current connection with al Qaeda or of any ties to the events of Sept. 11. Nevertheless, the industry formed a Tanzanite Task Force to create a system of warranties – from the mine to the retailer – so consumers can be assured tanzanite is protected from infiltration by terrorists.

Because some retailers still appear reluctant to put tanzanite back into their inventories until the system of warranties is in place, the gem’s future remains unresolved. Avram says the gem clearly needs and deserves the support of retailers who were so quick to drop it. “Tanzanite sales need to continue to help deserving Africans who mine it, provide a living for those who trade in it and delight those who wear it,” he says. “Tanzanite should not be listed as another innocent victim of al Qaeda.”
Again, looking at lots of smoke and accusations, but little heat nor fire. But, Tanzanite being a low volume trade is probably not a great way to fund terrorism. If you are using a globally distributed network for financing with low overhead it is on the very fringes of *that*, but overhead is a killer and unless the dollar figures are large, which is not indicated, then there is no real good reason for terrorists to spend money *here* when charitable giving gets them money for *free*.

I consider Walid el-Hage to be a ne'er-do-well sort of guy, as backed up by this Fronline look at his career. He came from a catholic family in Lebanon which didn't like his conversion to Islam... and he then took on the 'terrorist tour' of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, heading back to Pakistan with his wife and mother-in-law to help Afghan refugees, was part of a conspiracy to kill the leader of a Tucson mosque in 1990, served as an intermediary for those looking to get weapons agains Meir Kahane, implicated in the death of an Afghan Refugee Center leader in 1991, became involved with the 1993 WTC bombers two of whom he had been involved with for a couple of years, moved to Sudan in 1992 to be Osama bin Laden's secretary and had many business transactions under his purview... the list is long and extensive and includes Tanzania and Kenya before the al Qaeda bombings there and may have been part or operated with the 'East African Cell' that pulled off the bombings...

So his contacts are diverse within the terrorist community, stretching to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sudan, Kenya, Lebanon, Kuwait... and involved with people who had conspired to kill others in Tucson, Brooklyn... and finally part of al Qaeda.

Terrorist Central gives a roundup of him with a short bio here.

Not a nice man, but the tracking of his contacts and groups now is something difficult to do because of time. Although the Tanzanite trade looks dry, there are other gemstones from places that al Qaeda has or does operate. But tracking down laundry lists of possibilities is a long time in searching and coming up with something and I am not up to that task.

The other thing I have been working on is the NOLA engineering, its failures and some of the reasoning behind them. Below are my working notes, not edited:
Mississippi river depth, length, width at NOLA vital.

Pascal's Law

pressure = density of fluid (fresh water is 1000 kg/m^3) x force of gravity (9.8 m/s^2) x h (in meters)

this would be pressure acting down by the fluid above in Pascals (Pa)

Flow rate is equal to that pressure minus the resistivity of the pipe (kPa)

Bernoulli's Law

(v^2)/2 + gravitational potential energy per unit mass + fluid enthalpy per unit mass = constant

Physical characteristics of water!

And lets take a typical summer's day in NOLA: 90 degress F or 32 degrees celsius

Temp: 32.00 degrees C

Pressure (Pa) = 101325

Saturation vapor pressure (Pa) = 4754

Density (kg/m3) = 995.09

Specific enthalpy (kj/kg) = 134.11

Specific enthalpy (kcal/kg) = 32.03

Specific heat (kj/kg) = 4.178

Specific heat (kcal/kg) = 0.998

Volume heat capacity (kj/m3) = 4157.73

Dynamic viscosity (kg/m.s.) = 0.000765

Pressure along the column is depth dependent and final bottom force is equal to total above, sides vary by depth as water column changes pressure.

Some Mississippi factoids

Speed Mississippi is typically 1.2 mph (0.536 448 meter/second)

Depth (NOLA) between Algiers point and Gov. Nicholls Wharf it is 200' ( aprox 61 m.)

Sediment load average is 436,000 tons/day (395,532,547 kilograms/day or 4,578 kg/second)

Flow rate NOLA: 600,000 cu.ft./s (16,990 cu.m./s)

One cubic foot of water weighs 62.4 pounds.

Mass at NOLA for flow rate: 16,982,498 kg/s

Size of shipping channel: 45' (13.716 m)

8 m/pixel on map

Short width 1120 m

Long width 1224 m

Length at bend 11,760m

So, time to plug in numbers!

Now the deep part of the river is 61 m. call that the center 2/6

Shipping channel is the majority at 13.716 m. call that 3/6

Near shore, maybe 10 m.? 1/6

Average call it 30 m. for round numbers

Stoke's Law

settling velocity = 2 (density sediment-density fluid)*gravity*radius of particle^2/9*dynamic viscosity of fluid

v=(2*density sediment- 2*density fluid)*gravity*radius^2/9*viscosity

((velocity * 9 *viscosity)/g *(2*density sediment - 2*density fluid))^1/2 = radius

Lake Pontchartrain depth ~ 4m
Now I have plugged in the numbers and gotten some interesting results.

The turbid flow and discharge raises the water density from the previously stated
995.09 kg/m^3 to 999.56 kg/m^3 using the above flow output given for the Mississippi and flow rate. Yes a measly few tenths of a percent, about 0.45%, but that does increase pressure a bit... necessary for determining things.

So, as they say, I leave it up to the student to do the math from there... I suggest a spreadsheet.

That's it for now... you do not want to *know* the hours I have put into this stuff....

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